In the political sphere, two extremes dominate the discussion: those who are not aware of any political agenda, and people who care very much about the political climate. A point of contention between these two differing views often stems from the subject of voting participation or lack thereof among the different generations.
College-age students are among the group that has the least amount of participation in elections. According to The United States Election Project, the 18-29-year-old age group had the lowest voter turnout in the 2016 general election at just over 40%, then dropping to just over 30% for the 2018 general election.
Many of students have “the mindset that it doesn’t really matter,” said Kacey Corbett, an English student at UMass Lowell, about her peers’ views on voting.
Young people have statistically not been as present in elections as older generations. One reason students said is that there is a notion that they believe their vote is just another number.
Corbett said she “would love to say yes” about her vote mattering. “We live in such a blue state that my vote is going to be part of the majority.” Corbett said her view about her vote not mattering comes from the perspective of someone that agrees with the majority. Many voters feel like their vote will not matter because they are part of the minority.
When asked how she helps spread the message to her peers that voting is important, Corbett said, “I don’t think I do.” She will sometimes use social media to help express her support for policies but does not actively take a stand to spread awareness. Corbett said she believes her generation needs to get their ideas out now.
It’s the “impact of your civic duty, to feel involved,” says Corbett. She believes it shouldn’t be taken for granted or ignored. This age group depends greatly on social media to convince them that their vote matters, rather than realizing the privilege and power that being able to vote holds
There is a common theme that one person cannot make a difference with their one vote, this time coming from the perspective of someone who may not agree with the majority opinion in her community.
“I don’t know,” says Erin Nelson, an art student at UMass Lowell, about the impact that her vote could have on an election. “When there is a huge number against a little number, what does one person matter?”
In order to get more students and people from the 18-29-year-old age group voting, there needs to be a shift in the direction that the media displays their information. A lot is directed towards middle-age people, “but it should be directed toward us because we’re the up and coming people,” said Nelson.
The internet and social media have started to become more active in the political sphere since the 2016 Presidential Election. Celebrities on Twitter are using their platform to encourage young people to vote and spread the message of political campaigns that they are passionate about.
Although several candidates are trying to appeal to the youth vote, many younger students do not follow along with these candidates at their rallies, and often do not watch the debates.
“They need to find a way to make it easier to understand,” said Nelson, about each nominees’ goals and what they want to accomplish. Nelson has yet to vote in any election, either town or national. If there was a “completely unbiased platform” to spread information, she thinks she would be much more educated on the upcoming presidential election that she wants to vote in.
The 2020 presidential election has the potential to be significantly influenced by the younger voters. According to Pew Research Center, one-in-ten of the people that are eligible to vote are from Generation Z. “We’re going to see the change,” says Nelson. “We should take action now.”